Garam Masala is one of the most famous seasoning blends in the world. This spice blend is used in Indian kitchens to add flavor to just about anything. Having a good garam masala in your kitchen will give you the foundation you need to create authentic curries, stews, and marinades. Below, you’ll learn all about garam masala so you can get cooking.
What is Garam Masala?
Garam masala is a blend of spices that is commonly used throughout the Indian subcontinent. For most people in India, garam masala is a pantry staple that can be used on its own or act as a base for other spices (think of the way we use salt and pepper in the US). The spices used in garam masala can vary from kitchen to kitchen. However, most blends include coriander, cumin, cardamom, and black peppercorns. Compare the ingredient labels before you purchase garam masala and choose the blend that best fits your taste preferences. Regardless of the spices in your blend, you will find garam masala to be highly fragrant with a complex combination of flavors.
Most experts believe that garam masala originated in the Northern regions of India. Because this part of the country is mountainous and faces harsh winters, garam masala was originally designed to add warmth to dishes during the cold months. As garam masala spread throughout India, different regions adjusted the recipe to fit local palates. Eventually, the warming spices of India spread even further, and they are now popular across the globe. Today, Indian populations in America and the UK have popularized garam masala in the West. Try garam masala from different regions of the world and you will taste huge variations in this spice blend.
Variations and Substitutions
As we’ve just discussed, there are many different types of garam masala available. While the words garam masala translates to “hot spice”, this blend doesn’t need to be spicy. Mild garam masala is popular in many regions of India and often has floral or nutty notes. You can choose one garam masala to keep in your kitchen, or you might want to buy several to add more variety to your cooking. You can also make garam masala yourself for ultimate control of the ingredients and flavors. If you don’t have garam masala, you can use a combination of other kitchen spices like black pepper, cumin, and curry powder to create a similar flavor.
Garam masala has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The warming properties of the spice blend are thought to boost the metabolism. Individual ingredients in garam masala also have additional health benefits. For instance, cardamom and clove have strong antioxidant properties and may be help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. Many garam masala blends also contain cinnamon, which is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Use garam masala as a delicious way to get a nutritional boost!
It’s important to store your garam masala properly to ensure that the blend maintains its flavor. Store-bought garam masala usually comes in a glass or plastic container with a secure lid. Make sure you store these containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Also, pay attention to the expiration date on the package as spices lose their flavor over time.
If you are making your own garam masala, store your creation in an airtight container such as a mason jar. This container should also be stored in a cool, dry place. While freshly ground spices offer a more potent flavor, they also lose their flavor quicker than pre-ground spices. If you are grinding your own spices for your garam masala, try to consume these spices within two weeks for the best results.
Recipes and Common Uses
Garam masala has countless uses in Indian cuisine. It’s delicious in both meat and vegetarian dishes and is often the main ingredient in curries. Try making our Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Tikka Kabobs, or Chana Chole to discover the depth of flavor that garam masala adds to Indian recipes.
Buying Garam Masala Online
At Nomads Marketplace, we make it easy to find ethnic ingredients. We offer different types of garam masala and also have convenient spice starter kits that contain everything you need to start making authentic Indian dishes at home. Search our website for premium ingredients, recipes, and inspiration from around the globe.